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Activists rally in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick outside the offices of the National Football League on Park Avenue, Aug. 23, 2017 in New York City. Getty

Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job, but he still has a jersey — and National Football League gear appears to have become a way to pick sides for or against the national anthem protests that are roiling the league. The two jerseys at the center of the debate belong to Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who ignited the protest in 2016, and Alejandro Villanueva, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman who was seen on camera Sunday singing the national anthem while his teammates chose to stay behind in the locker room.

Since the league-wide protests last weekend, in which many players and owners took a knee or locked arms in solidarity after vitriolic Twitter comments by President Donald Trump, the hottest-selling jersey over 24 hours belonged to Villanueva, a decorated former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan.

On Monday, online sports retailer Fanatics told ESPN's Darren Rovell that Villanueva's No. 78 was the top seller across all of its sports platforms. The surge in sales can reasonably be attributed to the image of Villanueva standing for the Star Spangled Banner, given that offensive linemen are rarely at the top of jersey sales.

According to Rovell, Kaepernick had the best-selling 49ers merchandise from March through May 2017 despite not being on the team roster. In August, it was reported that Kaepernick was 39th on the NFL Players Association official merchandise top 50 list. In September 2016, Kaepernick's jersey became the top seller while his protest was in full swing.

Villanueva, who unwittingly became the poster boy for anti-protest sentiment, expressed disappointment that he has become the focus of attention and partially at the expense of his teammates.

"I see that picture of me standing by myself and I'm embarrassed to a degree, because unintentionally I left my teammates behind," Villanueva said. "It wasn't me stepping forward. I never planned to boycott. ... At the end of the day, whether I want it or not, whether it was my intended plan or not, the reason I went out there by myself is the reason it's causing all this distress."

Villanueva also said that players who take a knee "are not saying anything negative about the military. They're not saying anything negative about the flag."

Aware of the sales spike of his jerseys, Kaepernick decided in 2016 to donate the proceeds. In a recent Instagram posting, Kaepernick announced that he has already donated $900,000 of his $1 million pledge to various charities and organizations.

Kaepernick caused a stir in August 2016 by sitting during the national anthem to draw attention to racial discrimination and police brutality. The 29-year-old quarterback remains a free agent and his unemployment is widely seen as a reaction by NFL owners to the controversy over his political beliefs.